News and Events

Dr Nathan Hughes – Visiting Marie Curie Fellow


The Centre for Adolescent Health is delighted to be hosting Dr Nathan Hughes who joins the MCRI for two years as Marie Curie Research Fellow, supported by a prestigious European Union scholarship. He is also Visiting Senior Fellow at the Melbourne School of Government. Nathan is based in the UK as Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham.

Whilst in Melbourne, Nathan is undertaking a programme of research concerned with the application of biological and neurosciences to law and social policy. In particular, he is interested in explanations regarding patterns of offending amongst young people with neurodevelopmental disorders, and their implications for policy and practice within the criminal justice system. Nathan’s previous research has highlighted consistent evidence of a high incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders amongst offending populations, particularly those in custodial institutions. It identifies a range of difficulties with youth justice practices, including in needs assessment and responsive, specialist intervention.

By engaging with experts across the Campus, Nathan hopes to inform a range of practical developments in policy and practice. As he says, “Whilst research consistently demonstrates that youth justice systems continue to punish young people for the risks and vulnerabilities associated with their neurodevelopmental difficulties, advances in biological and neurosciences have the potential to inform practices better able to meet the needs of this vulnerable population. This offers grounds for optimism in the future development of services and support based on our improved understandings of neurodisability.”

“Improvements in screening and assessment can ensure earlier identification and intervention. Training of key staff can ensure recognition of the challenges facing those with neurodisability in engaging with the youth justice system. Interventions that respond appropriately to the needs of these young people can ensure more effective and cost efficient support to prevent the onset of anti-social behaviour and break a common cycle of persistent and serious offending.”

Welcome to Associate Professor Felice Jacka


The Centre for Adolescent Health warmly welcomes Associate Professor Felice Jacka who will be spending time with us in an honorary capacity through the Murdoch Childrens Research institute.  Felice is a Principal Research Fellow at Deakin University, who also holds an honorary position at the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Melbourne and the Black Dog Institute. She is recognised as a leading expert regarding the association between diet quality and the common mental disorders, depression and anxiety. She is president of both the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) and the new Australian Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders (APMD).

Felice’s ongoing program of research focuses on health behaviours, particularly diet quality, as risk factors for mental disorders. It incorporates a broad range of epidemiological and public health investigations, with extensive partnerships and collaborations in Australia and elsewhere involving the acknowledged experts in the field of psychiatry, psychology, medicine and public health. Her program spans the spectrum of research, comprising detailed investigations of biological mechanisms and drivers of the relationships between lifestyle and mental health, such as the gut microbiota and immune system, through to the development of clinical and community based interventions. It aims to yield new knowledge that can be readily translated to inform public policy. Her primary goal is to develop a coherent public health message and effective, best-practice strategies for the universal primary prevention of the common mental disorders.

Felice’s engagement at the Centre builds on the collaborative relationship that she developed with Professor George Patton and the CATS study, from which she appreciated that there are wider opportunities for collaborative research. She says, “I am particularly drawn to the wealth of expertise available at MCRI in both the biological sciences and psychiatric epidemiology. Most importantly, with my prevention hat on, I am increasingly interested in early life exposures as important modifiable targets for preventing mental disorders across the life course”. How is Felice finding it? “It has exceeded my expectations. The environment is cheerful, friendly and collaborative and there are so many talented researchers with whom I can share my interests!” Felice is interested in the wider social and economic aspects of population mental health. “I believe that working at the Centre for Adolescent Health will enable me to develop key research projects that relate to each of these areas”.

Master of Adolescent Health & Wellbeing – Information Night

Thursday September 25th UOM-Pos3D_S_Sm_new- surveymonkey
6.00 – 7.00pm
Vernon Collins Lecture Theatre
Royal Children’s Hospital

Practitioners from all fields interested in working more effectively with young people, are invited to come along to hear about the course, learn from our lectures and meet our graduates.

Information on scholarship opportunities will also be available.

Supper provided.

For further information contact


Sawyer_SusanAdolescence is supposed to be the healthiest of times in our lives. But open any newspaper and you’re likely to find an article about the health problems of today’s youth. Whether it’s drugs or alcohol-fuelled violence, obesity, cyberbullying or sexting, you will most likely come away thinking this generation is in jeopardy. So what is going on?

Read more from Professors George Patton and Susan Sawyer in The photo georgeConversation at

Congratulations to Dot Henning

Dots front page IJSA March 2014Dot Henning is congratulated for her efforts in leading new research into the sexually transmitted infection Mycoplasma genitalium in young people experiencing homelessness who access care at the Young People’s Health Service (YPHS) that is run by the Centre for Adolescent Health.

The study offered STI screening (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Mycoplasma Genitalium) to asymptomatic young people accessing primary level care at YPHS for health concerns other than sexual and reproductive health. Of the sixty young people tested, 8 tested positive for Mycoplasma Genitalium and 10 for Chlamydia, and three testing positive for both. Mycoplasma Genitalium is increasingly recognized as an important STI, and this study provides important data to the prevalence of this STI amongst marginalized youth. Additionally, this study highlights the complex health needs of this population, and supports the need for comprehensive primary health care.The research findings have just been published in the March 2014 edition of the International Journal of STD & AIDS with the article gaining a mention on the journal’s front cover. Dr Peter Azzopardi (Research fellow, Centre for Adolescent Health), Clinical Nurse Consultant Donna Eade and Youth Health Nurse Alison Langstone (previously) from YPHS, and Dr Alex Marceglia and Nurse Practitioner Alison Bean-Hodges from the Sexual Health Service at the Royal Women’s Hospital provided valuable assistance with the study.

Free on-line learning modules on AYA cancer


The Centre for Adolescent Health in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and ONTrac at Peter Mac Victorian Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Service is celebrating the launch of two online learning modules on cancer care for adolescents and young adults (AYA). The modules have been created using a novel method of online learning developed out of Harvard Medical School known as spaced education, where courses are comprised entirely of multiple choice questions and answers delivered to the learner’s email inbox at regular intervals. The approach is backed by a strong evidence base and has been found to improve knowledge acquisition, increase long-term knowledge retention and effectively change behaviour.

 “Learners receive two questions every other day, which can be accessed via desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone,” explains Project Coordinator Sam Van Staalduinen. “You receive immediate feedback on your responses along with corresponding evidence-based information, key messages and freely available resources. It’s about delivering short bursts of information at a time and place that suits the learner- the approach allows people to enhance their understanding of issues relating to young people with cancer and develop greater confidence in working with this unique patient group through a fun approach to learning that only takes a few minutes a day.” Upon completion of each module, learners also gain access to a website containing all of the information and resources for future reference.

 Cancer Care for Adolescents and Young Adults Part I and II are freely available and aimed at clinical and non-clinical professionals working with young people with cancer, or anyone with a professional interest in the field. Click here for more information or visit to enrol (best viewed in a modern browser such as Firefox or Safari).










Truth about CATS has won an award!

The Truth About CATS was awarded the Warren Sturgis Motion Media AwardCATS_Project_identifier_200 at the BioCommunications Association (USA) BioImages 2013 awards.

BioImages is an annual visual media competition that showcases the finest still, graphics and motion media work in the life sciences and medicine. Entries are evaluated by a distinguished panel of judges based on their impact, clarity, scientific content, technique, lighting, image quality, presentation, creativity, originality and effective use of the medium to fulfill its purpose. Best of Show, Award of Excellence, and Citation of Merit awards, in addition to five sponsored Merit Awards, are given in three visual media divisions: Still, Graphics and Motion. Winners are announced at the BioImages Opening Reception and Awards Presentation, held each year in conjunction with the association’s annual meeting.

Click on the link for the award winners.

2000 Stories in the news

Professor Susan Sawyer was interviewed for the Melbourne Voice by Annie Rahilly and talked about the new research being done by Professor Patton and his team at the Centre for Adolescent Health looking at the health of future generations. 

The full article in the Voice can be found here.